This is the advice I offer most to clients and also an important design philosophy I apply to my work.
Don’t use five or six different materials where two will do the job.
You see this all too often in contemporary architecture. We have an abundance of materials available and houses can be finished using stained timber, face or rendered (!) brick, Alucobond cladding, Corten steel and more, and it is not unusual to see all of these used on one house.
Using too many different finishes creates a messy and busy facade, which is the opposite of the clean and minimal lines of a modernist home.
This is the same in a modernist landscape.
Two or maybe three (two is probably better) key materials will create a unifying theme to your garden and allow it to tie in with the style of your home.
These materials should reflect those of the building and help to create a singular space of both house and garden.
If you have slate floors inside the house then continue the slate onto the patio. Timber roof beams can be reflected in decking or pergolas following the same lines.
One material that works well in the modernist landscape include large format concrete pavers or in-situ (Latin for On Site) poured slab steppers. This pavement can be used throughout the whole garden for driveway, footpath, terraces, steps and even pool coping and surrounds.
In our garden we had an existing slate tiled porch which is also reflected in slate bands through the concrete driveway. We have used old bluestone pitchers as the garden edge material and for garden walls and also added timber decking. So with three key materials we have a simple theme that continues the whole way through both front and rear garden and also complements the masonry and timber of the house.
As always in landscape design, rules are made to be broken, however I believe that if you keep your materials palette simple you retain the clean lines we love in all that is modernist.